UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean utters the R-word – one faux pas too many

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PHOTOS: Mr. Jean as he likely appeared yesterday afternoon, perhaps as the obvious impact of his foolish use of words sank in. (Photo: CBC) Below: Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and St. Albert NDP MLA Marie Renaud.

It sure sounds like Brian Jean is done. You know, like dinner.

Done in by the R-word, as a matter of fact. … Right out of his own mouth.

In the west central Alberta town of Drayton Valley on Wednesday to squeeze out a few more votes for his already flagging campaign to lead the United Conservative Party, the former Wildrose Party leader took a lame shot at Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s objection to the 220-per-cent tariff imposed by the United States on Bombardier aircraft.

Mr. Couillard had called the sanction – I mean, the tariff – an attack against Quebec and Canada, a characterization that sounds like a pretty reasonable thing to say to most Canadians.

But in rural Alberta, a certain amount of Quebec-bashing is always a temptation to conservative politicians with nothing particularly useful to say.

Speaking to local reporters, Mr. Jean – apparently imagining that the Quebec premier’s first obligation should be to Alberta, not to his own voters – started whinging about Mr. Couillard’s lack of enthusiasm for a pipeline through Quebec that Alberta governments, no matter who leads them, apparently still imagine will immediately make our bitumen, bedevilled by low world oil prices, more profitable.

Mr. Jean huffed: “This is a guy now asking for national unity? National unity while they stop our pipelines from going through because they don’t believe in Energy East! They would rather support a dictator and his abusive system to the people that he controls, rather than good, clean Alberta energy. It’s ridiculous and retarded.”

That was the moment the bitumen hit the fan.

“Using the R word is wrong. I thought you knew that. That word has harmed real people for too long. Be better.” So Tweeted Marie Renaud, St. Albert’s fearless NDP MLA. Hers was one of a storm of such comments of various social media platforms.

Later, Mr. Jean’s supporters complained a little about “political correctness,” of course, but it didn’t sound like their hearts were in it. The man who once joked about beating Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in a way that made it sound as if he was joking about violence against women had put his foot in his big mouth one time too many.

Mr. Jean eventually apologized, also by Tweet, but by the time he did, it was, as they say, a day late and a dollar short.

“I apologize for my regretful word choice but not for standing up forcefully for Albertans against QC politicians,” he grumbled.

Ms. Renaud reminded him: “Best not to use a ‘but’ when apologizing.”

Mr. Jean isn’t finished because he used the R-word, though, sad to say. He’s finished because UCP members are starting to realize the man can’t control his own mouth. Stupid things come out of it.

He apologized about the beating joke, too, and people mostly forgave him that time. But this was one faux pas too many.

If there was any hope of Mr. Jean avoiding being crushed by Jason Kenney’s juggernaut, it is all but gone now. He might as well retire with whatever dignity he has left to the family car wash in Fort McMurray.

Ignored in the entire brouhaha, unfortunately, was the deceptive and preposterous position Mr. Jean was taking on what he sometimes calls “dictator oil,” as if the UCP had plans to nationalize the oil industry or somehow force private oil companies to buy their oil from Alberta. Well, good luck with that, Mr. Free Enterpriser!

Making up outlandish fantasies about forcing the rest of Canada to buy Alberta oil or renegotiate the country’s constitutional equalization system has become a pattern with UCP leadership candidates.

And remember, the current equalization formula was enacted in 2007 when both Mr. Jean and Mr. Kenney were government MPs in Ottawa. Chances are pretty good, don’t you think, that they both remember how it works?

Categories Alberta Politics Canadian Politics